In the last ten or so years Mikko Innanen has established his position as one of the most dynamic and innovative saxophonists and composers hailing from the Nordic scene for jazz and improvised music.
Innanen, who currently resides in Helsinki, the Finnish capital, was born in February 1978 in Lapinjärvi, Finland. He started playing the alto saxophone at the age of ten after he and his family had moved to nearby Loviisa. His first saxophone teacher was Bengt Ingelin, other important teachers along the line were Jukka Perko, Tomas Franck, Sonny Heinilä, Anders Jormin and Raoul Björkenheim.
The saxophonist received his Master of Music degree in 2003 from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki Finland. He spent a year of his studies (1998–99) as an exchange student at the Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, Denmark.
In November 2008, he received the Finnish Jazz Federation’s annual Yrjö Award as the Finnish jazz musician of the year. Arts Council of Finland awarded him a three-year grant for artistic work in 2009. He was nominated for the Nordic Council's Music Prize in 2011. Innanen made his initial entry to the Downbeat Critics Poll in August 2014.
His earlier merits include winning the best soloist prize at the International Competition for Jazz Groups in Getxo, Spain in 2000 and achieving the first prize at the first Jukka Perko Saxophone Contest in Huittinen, Finland.
Since 2008 Innanen has made several extended stays in New York, playing with many of the city’s top players, such as Andrew Cyrille, William Parker, Joe Fonda, Lou Grassi, Pascal Niggenkemper, Herb Robertson, Steve Swell, Thomas Heberer, Karl Berger, James Hurt, Ken Filiano, John Ehlis, Ryan Blotnick, Joe Hertenstein, Simon Jermyn, Mat Maneri, Sylvie Courvoisier and Scott Robinson.
Innanen organized a two-day festival, the Mikko Innanen Intercontinental Extravaganza at the I-Beam Music Studio in Brooklyn, New York in June 2012 and 2013. He was the artistic director of the 2015 Korpo Sea Jazz Festival in Korppoo, Finland.
To date Mikko Innanen is featured on ca. 25 recordings as a leader or co-leader and more than 20 as a sideman. Some of his latest releases are Mikko Innanen with William Parker and Andrew Cyrille: Song for a New Decade; Innanen/Pesonen/Kallio: Beginnings; Wadada Leo Smith & TUMO: Occupy The World; The Curators: Thank You; Mikko Innanen & Innkvisitio: Clustrophy;Delirium: Green Side Up; Gourmet: Cosmopolitan Sideshow; Kalle Kalima & K-18: Buñuel de jour and Stefan Pasborg: Free Moby Dick.
Innanen is currently active as a bandleader/co-leader with Mikko Innanen & Innkvisitio, Mikko Innanen 10+, Mikko Innanen with William Parker and Andrew Cyrille, Mikko Innanen F60.8, PLOP, Gourmet and as a featured sideman with Kalle Kalima & K-18, André Sumelius' Tonight At Noon, Pekka Tuppurainen Röd/Blå, Teppo Mäkynen’s Serenity Ensemble and Jori Huhtala 5.
Mikko Innanen has also performed and/or recorded with such musicians as Stefan Pasborg, Kasper Tranberg, Jonas Westergaard, Han Bennink, John Tchicai, Paul Lovens, Cedric Piromalli, Aki Rissanen, Adam Rudolph, Joachim Badenhorst, Fred Van Hove, Ingrid Jensen, Klaus Suonsaari, Teppo Hauta-aho, Sanni Orasmaa, Frantz Loriot, Jaak Sooäär, Juhani Aaltonen, Verneri Pohjola, George Kontrafouris, Barry Guy, Mark Solborg, Tom Rainey, Jakob Anderskov, Laurent Blondiau, Frank Gratkowski, John Lindberg, Anders Bergcrantz, Severi Pyysalo, Dayna Stephens, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, Billy Cobham, Ibrahim Electric, Jakob Dinesen, Kresten Osgood, Ted Curson and Paal Nilssen-Love and with such groups as Delirium, Nuijamiehet, Mr. Fonebone, Triot, TUMO, Zanussi 13, Admiral Awesome, Teddy Rok 7, Triade, Motif, Iro Haarla / Ulf Krokfors Loco Motife, Rosemary's Babies, Black Motor, UMO and Espoo Big Band.
Innanen has performed in the following 38 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Morocco, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, USA and Vietnam.